GPRS Data Relay for DIY Vehicle Tracking
In August 2009 Zerksus is officially launching the new GPRS Data Relay service, GDR for short. This will allow the customer to either use Zerksus products or design and use their own products using GPRS devices over internet without developing any form of server.
This service is aimed at saving cost, limiting risk and getting up and running as quickly as possible.
How does it work?
First look at the alternatives.
What you actually want is to just log into some server to get your data. This is exactly what the Zerksus GDR does for you. The server sits in the middle of your application.
You have a small business with e.g. 5 vehicles and need to track them. You don't want to spend the huge costs to install a mainstream unit. So you design/obtain a tracking unit that will communicate via GPRS. This unit will now send data to a fixed IP address. So instead of getting such an IP address in the form of the alternatives above and having to develop your own software you sign up for the GDR. The unit now sends the data to the GDR server where it is queued for you. Whenever you require to download the data you connect via your client computer (from simple netbook, with 3G, to large system on ADSL). The data is then downloaded and displayed, processed and stored on the client system. This system will now allow you to save costs by (1) installing your own unit, (2) not having to run an internet based service, (3) not requiring power backup and support and (4) not having to write software.
Who is this service for?
How easy will it be to implement?
That is about it. The modem unit will now send its data to the server. The server will route it to the client queue. The client will download the queue to the client PC.
Airtime, data and queue costs.
You will have to look at 3 different airtime/data costs:
The modem costs are of particular interest. You can go for contract or pre-paid. With pre-paid we do have a facility to top-up the SIM's air-time via the server. It will be the client's responsibility to always have funds available in the SIM account. Failure to do so will render the modem useless, requiring removal if you cannot top it up via another method.
The queue cost is the main Zerksus expense you will have to pay. Depending on method of payment (upfront payment equals discount) the cost will vary. Also the more modems per client the lower the cost per modem. Currently the pricing structure sit between R15 and R20 per month depending on payment and number of units.
The data cap is based on the acceptable number of messages per month. When the cap is exceeded the data will be charged additionally at R0.10 per mb. Just keep in mind that 1mb will allow for roughly 4000 messages (at large packet sizes of 150 bytes). If you send a packet every minute the modem will send 1440 packets per day and roughly 43200 per month. This will require about 12mb/month. Remember that you can decide how much data you want to send.
Optimal bandwidth usage:
It does not help just sending a few bytes. If you only send 1 byte then the modem still adds (or requires) 20 bytes for the IP header, 20 bytes for TCP (excluding routing data), possible re-transmits and other overheads. So the idea is to send large packets with several location samples compressed in the the single packet. The actual data sent must be larger than the GPRS overheads. In the case where you want focus on a vehicle you can send it a command to retransmit every few seconds (for live viewing) but that will eat up your bandwidth if left unattended. If you can wait a minute you will receive the same data, just more efficiently packed.
Checking our process.
You can check out the progress and launch date on the web site itself: http://www.trackserve.co.za
Also be on the lookout for the client mapping software project providing you with cheap rent-able mapping data.
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